Naomi, a new character whose first issue was released today, is arguably writer Brian Michael Bendis's first major contribution to the DC superhero pantheon. Having created dozens of characters at Marvel, some of whom went on to great heights, Bendis has so far been putting his stamp on existing characters, or creating new supporting players with limited potential to blow up on their own.
(Bendis has also been creating a ton of new content for his creator-owned, mature-readers Jinxword line, but that is a whole different animal.)
Naomi is different: Young, African-American, and poised to play a big role in the teen-centric Wonder Comics pop-up imprint that Bendis is overseeing, the character feels like his DC answer to Miles Morales (a character he co-created during his years at Marvel). The whole thing feels very...Bendis.
The issue opens with a full page of talking heads. The first issue of Naomi could be swapped out with any number of issues of Powers or Bendis's Avengers in that way: a grid of characters talking to the reader, usually with a stinger at the end where the final speaker has something important to say.
This time around, the stinger is the introduction of Naomi herself, the lone face of color on a page full of white people. This is not so much a comment on race as it is a comment on the title's setting -- in a small town that feels like the world of Metropolis and Gotham City is often passing them by.
The talking-heads pages are a common tool in Bendis's toolkit, but one that he has not relied on in his DC work. When we asked him whether choosing to open Naomi that way was a statement, or whether it just kind of worked for the issue, Bendis immediately corrected our misconception.
"David Walker wrote that page. We were just getting started, and he just said, 'I have this vision of the first page, and it's this sea of white faces and Naomi,'" Bendis explained. "I literally made a note to myself, 'No more talking head pages,' not only for myself, but for other reasons. There's a lot of people doing it right now, and when I see that, I venture towards other ideas. And so I said, 'No,' but I realized, 'Oh, David's idea is so great that that's what should be done for a fact that it actually even speaks towards other peoples' choices to do those.' So I kind of like that, and it's the only time you're going to see it in any book I'm doing for the next couple years."
Of course, you never know when somebody else might convince him it's a good idea.
"He tried to get out, but I dragged him back in," Walker told us with a laugh.
Naomi #1 is available in stores and online now.